Book Review: Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous 

Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

First thing you should know about me is that I tend to be a Marvel Comic purist. Why? Well, my dad was the one who used to buy me comics and he was a Marvel fan over DC, so that’s basically the gist.  However, once I started receiving an allowance, I would pick up the Wonder Woman comics on occasion.  Still wasn’t one of my must-read-every-month comics, but I loved Diana’s story and her adventures.

This book is even beautiful naked.

All this in mind, why would I want to read this book? Two reasons: 1. the movie starring Gal Gadot was absolutely fantastic and it reignited my interest in Wonder Woman’s story. 2. Leigh Bardugo was writing the book (she’s so great).

Much like the movie, the action in Bardugo’s Wonder Woman picks up immediately, and much to my dismay, also like the movie, we spend very little time with Hippolyta and the Amazons on Themyscira. What can I say, I just want to spend a lot of time with all of those kick ass women. Also, Bardugo explores the Amazonian origins in respect to how those living on Themyscira arrived on the island, and this is something that I suppose I never learned about during my sporadic reading or just didn’t remember, so I really enjoyed that.

Bardugo’s characterization of Diana is pretty spot on: feeling unworthy of her life on Themyscira, feeling unable to live up to Hippolyta’s expectations, wanting more than “this provincial life” (*pats self on back for Beauty & the Beast reference*), and being generally curious of life off of the island. I felt like she hit all the right notes for me to go ahead and relate to Diana the minute I started to read.

I loved the mythology in this novel about the descendants of Helen of Troy. It was glorious. The idea of the woman who launched a thousand ships being the precursor to a line of warbringers is so great. I tried to look up to see if this was ever an idea in the comics, but from what I can find (and feel free to correct me) this is a wholly original idea by Bardugo. SO many props to her for this.

There are some serious twists and turns in this book, ones that I definitely weren’t expecting, and I read this book in one sitting on the beach. I didn’t go in the water or play games with my family because I was so engrossed in Diana and Alia’s story. Also, for making the story completely focused on the two main female characters and backseating the males…ALSO MORE PROPS.

Thank you, Leigh Bardugo, for keeping me on my toes and making me fall in love with Wonder Woman all over again.

4.5 Bards

Waiting On Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: August 29, 2017

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

14061957The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I spent three books thinking Mal was gonna be the worst thing ever and I just didn’t see it at all? Maybe because I was expecting the worst, but I think Alina could have done a lot worse. Like the Darkling, for instance. And I get that that seems to be an unpopular opinion in the fandom, but here’s the thing, the relationship that Alina has with the Darkling reminds me so much of Buffy and Spike in Season 6 that I just cannot get behind it.

Every private interaction she has with the Darkling he talks about how she could “balance” him and make him a better man, and both times her response is that he wouldn’t do the same for her. She wants him, but she doesn’t want to want him, and that I think is the most important thing about Alina. She takes to power well, she’s a natural leader, but she doesn’t want to be a monster.

The Darkling is a terrible person. He has no qualms about using/killing people to get what he wants. Those rare moments of humanity we see in him are only brought out by Alina. He’s relying on her to be his gatekeeper, and honestly, I’m not here for that. But I also think that’s what makes readers love him so much. Bardugo does an amazing job of making this character, who should be totally unlikeable (he is the antagonist, after all), not just likable, but somehow relatable.

I don’t have super strong feelings on Mal one way or the other. I think the fact that he was important to Alina made him important to the story, but also that she didn’t necessarily need him. I will say that the best part about Mal is that he recognizes that. Like I’ve said, I kept waiting for him to screw up so badly that I would hate his guts and that never happened. Instead, I was always surprised by how much he cared about Alina to stop being so selfish and step aside for her be as powerful as she was meant to be.

I am not ruined. I am ruination.

Genya’s storyline has to be my favorite. “I hope the taste of me was worth it.” Just. Damn. That whole interaction with the King (and Nikolai!!! bringing his own father to justice!!!!! I just love him a lot, okay?) was one of the best parts of the series for me. I’m glad that she was able to come back from that and I’m glad that she stopped hiding herself after what the Darkling did to her face and I’m also glad for David and that he finally had some good words for Genya rather than just talking about science. (I’m never getting over this scene, sorry, not sorry.)

Nikolai continues to be the best thing ever. I love how just completely dramatic he is, but it’s not obnoxious, it’s just who he is. Bringing honesty and candor and just overall lightness to everything. I don’t have anything else to add. Except that I wish he were real.

I did like the ending, though I think it may have been more impactful if it had gone the other way. Overall, I loved the series, I read all 3 in 3 days. They were so easy to get into and they kept me on the edge the whole time I was reading. That being said, I don’t know if I would have loved them as much if I had read them before Six of Crows so I’m glad I read that first. 4 bards for the conclusion of this wild ride.

fourbards

 

 

 


Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

22299763

Release Date: September 27, 2016

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

When it comes to sequels, the resounding cry is usually “the first one was better.” (Pirates of the Caribbean, anyone? Anyone?) Given that I wasn’t bowled over by Shadow & Bone, I had reservations when I began Siege and Storm.

I struggled through the first chapters (I’ll elaborate more on that later), before the plot suddenly took an unexpected turn and proved… that the sequel was in fact better than the first. While still imperfect, Bardugo’s second effort expands the world and continues to play on complex issues in the life of a flawed, human hero, Alina Starkov.

Bardugo’s depictions of Alina’s struggle to cope with her growing power brings into question the corrupting nature of power itself. As Alina attempts to step into the role she believes herself to be destined for, her decisions repeatedly cause conflict and confrontations with those around her, forcing Alina to question her own motives. Complicating the issue is the fact that Alina was born with power that was later suppressed. Having found her true capabilities, and embraced them, Alina is reluctant to let go of what has become a foundational part of her identity. In a way, Bardugo’s text both addresses and subverts the idea of power as corrupter, as Alina does struggle to maintain her identity but must also accept and embrace her natural powers and what she believes to be her destiny.

As Alina undergoes her struggle with power and identity, it begins to complicate her love life with Mal unsure of his role and relationship with Alina. Mal and Alina’s struggle is, in itself, not inherently Bad. In fact, that Mal questions his traditional masculine role is every bit as interesting as Alina’s own struggles with power as a woman, but Bardugo then inserts the most overused trope in existence: the love triangle. By making use of such a tired device, Bardugo undermines the strength of Alina’s journey. In fairness, it makes sense for Alina to question her “young love” with Mal, but I’m a bit over the concept of the love triangle in general.

My major issue with the book was the plot line of the opening chapters. While the book ended strong (I did enjoy it more than the first after all), the early chapters specifically force the reader to relive the same story arc presented in the first book. It’s not a summary, it’s a continuation, but it goes over the same emotional ground presented in book one without advancing the story. Alina faces the Darkling and searches for another amplifier for her powers – it’s literally what happened in the first book and did nothing for me as a reader.

Overall, with its complex assessment of relationships and power, I have to give Siege and Storm a solid four and a half bards.

four.fivebards

 

 

 

This review was submitted to A Midsummer Night’s Read by Valerie. 

 

Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six-of-CrowsKetterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.

Kaz. What can I say about Kaz. He’s not someone to be pitied, but I just want to wrap him up in a blanket and tell him it will be okay. But he survives the only way he knows how, he just keeps going. No matter the situation, he knows that he has to, so he does. Matthias and Nina are honestly just the right amount of angst and heartbreak that even if I didn’t like the book, I would probably keep reading just for them, because I am a huge sucker for terribly sad things. Jesper flirting with Wylan to throw him off, and then just because gives me life. Please more Jesper and Wylan in the next book. More Wylan in general actually, he’s the only one of the six that didn’t have his own narrative.

My favorite character though, is definitely Inej. It very easily could have been a story like boy saves girl, girl falls in love with boy, stays with boy forever even though he can’t love her the way that she needs/wants. But she knows what she wants and what she wants is someone whole, who will love her wholly and she finds strength in that and in herself and she quite literally pulls herself up with that. And even though we see her strength, we see her weakness from her past, she’s not just a “strong female character” she’s actually well-rounded, all of the characters are.

I was struck early on by Bardugo’s writing. Multiple times in the first couple chapters, I just had really “wow” moments from some of her lines. So many surprising twists and turns that she keeps hidden from the reader and other characters through Kaz, and it really works with his character. At the end of it, I loved it because it was suspenseful and you never knew what was going to happen next, but also because it was really just a story about people. How people can always surprise you. How you can grow and surprise yourself. This ragtag group of kids went from needing each other because they had to, to actually starting rely on one another.

Brilliant. I can’t wait for the next one. 4.5 Bards.
four.fivebards

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